Zee Media Bureau/Ritesh K Srivastava
Patna: In a major breakthrough, the Bihar police on Wednesday arrested Ayesha Bano, believed to be "kingpin" of an illegal money transaction racket with Pakistani link from Mangalore in Karnataka.
According to reports, a special team of Bihar police arrested Ayesha Bano and her husband, Zubair, who runs a bidi business.
The development was confirmed by Lakhisarai Superintendent of Police Rajiv Mishra. They were being brought to Bihar, Mishra said.
Sources said Aysha Bano, mother of three children and referred to as "Pakistan boss", allegedly used to pass instruction to agents here to deposit money in designated bank accounts.
Preliminary inquiry has revealed that she was handled from Pakistan, the police said. The woman was arrested on the basis of an FIR lodged at Lakhisarai, 70 km from here.
The racket was busted on the basis of an alert from NIA while investigating serial blasts at Patna and Bodh Gaya explosions.
Four persons were arrested from outside a HDFC ATM on Friday last in this connection and sent to Lakhisarai jail.
Police said the four persons allegedly used to lure poor people to open bank accounts by paying them Rs 2000, and on these accounts money used to come from unknowns destinations, mostly from abroad.
Later, instructions used to be sent through SMS from Pakistan numbers to withdraw cash from these accounts and deposit them in account numbers provided to them in the SMS.
The Lakhisarai police had seized 25 ATM cards, 35 passbooks and cheques from the arrested.
Bano is also believed to be a close aide of absconding Patna serial blasts mastermind Tehsen Akhtar from Mangalore.
Bano has been charges with providing financial aid to Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives involved in the Patna blasts.
According to investigators, Bano was handling at least 50 bank accounts to facilitate hawala transactions for the IM agents involved in the Patna serial blasts.
Bano`s arrest is a major breakthrough in the Patna blasts case since its mastermind Tehseen Akhtar, a close aide of IM founder Yasin Bhatkal, is still evading the law.
The intelligence agencies believe that the Patna blasts and those in Bodh Gaya in Bihar were directed from Pakistan, where Riyaz Bhatkal, the brother of IM founder Yasin, is believed to be hiding.
The investigators claim that they have intercepted several chats on instant messaging site Nimbuzz between Riyaz and Tehseen Akhtar.
Tehseen is said to be running the IM module in India ever since, Yasin Bhatkal was arrested. Investigators also claim that Riyaz has been giving direct orders on terror strikes using the messaging site to Akhtar. In this context, Bano`s arrest can prove very useful for the investigating agencies.